Asus ROG Ally could blow away the Steam Deck — here’s what we know

Asus ROG Ally
(Image credit: Asus)

The ROG Ally is Asus’ answer to the Steam Deck. The company announced its gaming handheld on April 1, but after some questions about the device’s authenticity, the company assured the world that the ROG Ally was not an April Fool’s joke. It’s a real gaming handheld that will go on sale at some point.

The Asus ROG Ally features the new AMD Ryzen Z1 processors which Asus claims are the fastest AMD APUs yet. On top of that, the ROG Ally has a 1080p 120Hz LCD touch display which is superior to the Steam Deck's 720p 60Hz screen. Based on our brief hands-on time with the ROG Ally, Asus' claims about its handheld's performance appear true.

The ROG Ally could be quite a powerful handheld gaming device — and perhaps be capable of challenging the Steam Deck. Here’s what we know so far.

Asus ROG Ally: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Asus ROG Ally
Price$699 (allegedly)
ChipsetCustom AMD Zen 4 APU
Storage512GB (allegedly)
OSWindows 11
Display7-inch 1080p LCD touchscreen @ 120Hz
Ports1x USB-C port, 1x PCIe port, 1x headphone jack
Size11.0 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches
Weight1.3 pounds
Battery life8 hours (claimed)

Asus ROG Ally: Price and release date 

Asus hasn't officially revealed the ROG Ally's price, but according to several leaks, the Asus ROG Ally will cost $699. You can sign up to be notified when pre-orders go live at Best Buy. The handheld is expected to arrive on May 11.

Asus ROG Ally: Design

The ROG Ally has a similar design to the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. On the left side, you’ll find an analog stick and a D-pad. On the right, you’ll find the face buttons and another analog stick (at an offset angle). Each side has two vents and two buttons for navigating the user interface.

Along the top, you’ll find power and volume buttons, a PCIe port to connect to the XG Mobile, a USB-C port and a headphone jack. There are also more air vents up top. Lastly, there are two buttons on the handheld’s back and more air vents.

The ROG Ally measures 11.0 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds. In contrast, the Steam Deck measures 11.73 x 4.60 x 1.93 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds. Overall, Asus' handheld is smaller and weighs less than the Steam Deck.

We can’t say whether or not the ROG Ally is comfortable to use over an extended period. Based on our time with the device, we imagine it will be since it feels good to hold because it's so light.

Asus ROG Ally: Display

The ROG Ally has a 7-inch display 120Hz 16:9 display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Asus says it can hit 500 nits of brightness. The Steam Deck also has a 7-inch display, but it has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 800 and a 60Hz refresh rate. Valve says the Steam Deck can hit 400 nits of brightness but it peaked at 170 nits of brightness in our lab test.

The difference between 720p and 1080p, even on a 7-inch display, is stark. When playing Forza Horizon 5 during our preview, we were impressed by the crispness of the environment and how easy it was to see fine details. We’ve played this game on Steam Deck and the difference from the view on the ROG Ally is stark. The ROG Ally’s higher resolution compared to the Steam Deck is a game changer.

Asus ROG Ally

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The ROG Ally’s higher 120Hz refresh rate helps make games run buttery smooth, especially compared to the Steam Deck’s 60Hz. Ghostrunner, which has you traversing around a cyberpunk-inspired city in first person, ran flawlessly, as did the aforementioned Forza Horizon 5. This is the smoothest handheld experience we’ve had yet.

Asus ROG Ally: Performance 

The Asus ROG Ally packs a new AMD Ryzen Z1 series processor, which features RDNA3 architecture-based graphics. The new chips feature up to 8 cores and 16 threads and have the efficiency of Zen 4 architecture, according to AMD.

AMD's new processors are built on x86 architecture and are compatible with Windows 11. The company announced the Ryzen Z1 and Ryzen Z1 Extreme, though it's currently unclear if the ROG Ally will have models featuring both chips or if it's only using one of them.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Cores/ThreadsGraphicsCache
AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme8/1612 AMD RDNA 3 compute units24 MB
AMD Ryzen Z16/124 AMD RDNA 3 compute units22 MB

Asus claims the ROG Ally has double the performance of the Steam Deck. The company told Linus Tech Tips, who also previewed the system, that the Ally is twice as fast as the Steam Deck at 35 watts — with the latter topping out at 15W. The Ally might not hit 35W at launch but it would place the APU in AMD’s U-series chips, which go between 15W and 28W.

The aforementioned AMD chip powering the handheld is a custom Zen 4 RDNA3 4nm APU. The Steam Deck also uses an AMD APU, but its CPU is based on Zen 2 architecture while the GPU uses RDNA 2. This chip has four Zen 2 cores and eight RDNA 2 compute units. In comparison, the AMD Ryzen Z1 has six Zen 4 cores and 4 RDNA 3 compute units.

The games we tested during our preview performed great on the ROG Ally. Frame rates weren’t always consistent, but the games generally ran at high fps. We got better performance when we bumped the resolution down to 720p, naturally. We’d like to play games with a frame counter running to see what the machine is truly capable of.

Asus ROG Ally: Features 

The ROG Ally is a Windows 11 handheld and should allow you to install a variety of applications and programs. This is also true of the Steam Deck. The high level of customization should let you run all manner of games.

One of ROG Ally’s potential secret weapons is the ability to connect to the ROG XG Mobile, which is an external GPU that’s compatible with the company’s Flow laptops. Powered by an RTX 4090 laptop GPU, the XG Mobile could give the ROG Ally a serious performance boost. In addition, the device has a slew of ports — which is great considering the handheld only seems to have a single USB-C port.

However, the mobile GPU’s steep $1,999 asking price will no doubt be a major barrier to entry for many people.

Asus ROG Ally: Battery life 

The ROG Ally uses the same ROG Intelligent Cooling technology utilized by Asus’ laptops. This could presumably give the Ally a long-lasting battery life, though it’s too early to say whether or not it will surpass the competition.

The Steam Deck and Nintendo Switch can last between two to seven hours, depending on what you’re playing. If this handheld can deliver a consistent five to six hours, that should make most customers happy — especially if they’re able to play graphically-demanding games for that long.

We noticed the ROG Ally became warm after a few short minutes. It didn’t become uncomfortably warm, but the heat was noticeable. This makes us wonder how hot it will run during extended play sessions — especially when running graphically-demanding games.

Given how the ROG Ally has a higher resolution display with a faster refresh rate and that it supposedly has double the performance of the Steam Deck, its battery life might not be better than Valve's handheld. But we’ll see if the machine’s cooling technology can help it last for a decent amount of time.

Asus ROG Ally: Outlook 

Based on what we know about the ROG Ally, there’s reason to be optimistic about this device. It could give the Steam Deck true competition if it delivers better performance and battery life. And at $699, it's only $50 more than the Steam Deck.

Stay tuned for more information about the Asus ROG Ally.

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Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.